That’s another basho in the bag. A bit of a roller-coaster… one which, at the end, derails and ends up in a swingers party in a Bolivian crack den. Thanks to all of the S&S gentlemen for our gathering last night, and sorry to the snack bar hostess whose leg was broken, thats what happens when you invite a Scot to drink. Let’s get down and dirty about today’s sumo. First off, we can declare all the yusho winners because the only ones we report on were decided before today, so no spoliers. But we’ve also got special prizes and the lower ranks to deal with. In fact, lets start there.
Jonokuchi yusho: 21 year old Ikeru. Kagoshima-ken, Onomatsu beya, this is his 3rd 7-0 jonokuchi yusho this time from West Jk19. However after each one he has gone off the radar for a few basho, due to injury. So if the pattern continues, he’ll yusho again in Jan 2014.
Jonidan yusho: Daishoho. Mongolia, Oitekaze beya. 19 years old. 7-0 from east Jd26. Just getting started in sumo. He was fresh off a 6-1 start in jonokuchi when he went into this tournament. He’s off to a good start, but then again so was this report.
Sandanme Yusho: Notozakura. Ishikawa-ken, Onomatsu beya, 7-0from East Sd 33. This is not this belle’s time winning the ball, buuuuuuuut that was back in 2004 in jonidan. This cat only has a few years left in the tank and has only been as high as mid maskushita on 2 separate trips.
Makushita Yusho : Goshi, 20 years old, Fukushima-ken, Arashio beya. 7-0 from East Ms55. He has kachikosi-ed in 7 out of his 10 basho in sumo, twice with a zen sho yusho. He’s a bit far down the banzuke to make it to juryo this time, but we’ll keep an eye on him.
Juryo yusho: Endo. 22 years old, Ishikawa-ken, Oitekaze beya, 14-1 from West Juryo 13. He joined sumo after graduating from Nihon University and entered at tsukedashi status Ms10, which only the college guys are allowed to do. He moved up to juryo after two basho and completely dominated this basho. a 14-1 in a sekitori debut is fucking amazing. This is a kid to watch; he moves well, and he has strength and confidence. He can also mean-mug with the best of ’em.
Makuuchi Shukunsho (outstanding performance): Takayasu wM1.
Makuuchi Yusho: Hakuho. Yusho 26. We’ll get to him later.
Now on to the highlights for day 15. In juryo, Takanoyama won by a spectacular kakenage on Kotokuni. Taka finishes at 7-8, which will give him another stab a juryo in September. Osunaarashi finished strong with a powerful tachiai and well timed sukunage over Tanzo to bring his final score to 10-5. I as hoping he would do this well, and am glad to see him with 10. Can’t wait to see him go when he can eat and drink during the day. As Salah said in raider of the lost ark: “It is as if the Pharrohs have returned.” But this time it means he’s gonna be good, not that Nazis took over the city. Former makuuchi man Asasekiryu lost to Tokushinho, Asa finished with a 9-6, but looked to have a bit too much trouble for someone of his experience.
Another former makuuchi man Wakakoyu picked up his KK today against Daikiho (Daikiho overacts and pulls the craziest faces when he loses, which he did 8 times this basho). Same comment as for Asasekiryu too much effort to get too little result. Endo CREAMED Homasho today, all forward motion, low position, and tsuppari with good form and not letting Homey on the belt. Homey is used to defensive sumo but was completely taken out of his element. Homey finished at 9-6 and Endo picked up a definitive 14-1 yusho in his first basho in the division. Now onto makuuchi.
Juryo 1 Takanoiwa was trying to get his KK and clinch his promotion to makuuchi, however Jokoryu was in damage control mode and pulled out a shitatenage counter throw after a shaky start and eeked out his 6th win against the Juryo invader. The Joker has yet to live up to the potential he showed in the lower ranks. Hopefully he can pull his shit together by next basho.
Tamawashi fell by yoritaoshi to Tenkaiho. That leaves Washi at 5-10 and Tenkai at 10-5. Tenkai will be going up to makuuchi and Washi will be going back down to juryo. Not much to say about these guys this basho, nothing spectacular.
Kaisei finished out a great basho with a strong pushing win over Tokushoryu finishing with 11-4. Tokushoryu would have picked up a fighting spirit prize if he had won, but isn’t a 9-6 in your first makuuchi basho a special enough prize? His stuff looked good, but Kaisei has looked quite strong in Nagoya.
Sokokurai was able to cash in when Aran tried to go makikae, Lazarus slipped behind the Russian and finished him off by the ever embarrassing okuridashi. Aran finished with an 8-7, but yet again showed pretty crappy sumo this basho, I’d be just as happy if the guy wasn’t there anymore. Sokourai put up a great effort despite not having wrestled since being killed in a mafia-style assassination by the JSA in a Tokyo yakiniku shop. He finished 6-9 and will almost certainly be in juryo next basho, but I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table next basho.
Tamaasuka was in quick against Sadanofuji, forcing him back and out handily. Tama = 6-9, Sada = 5-10. Both of their sumo = easily forgettable.
Kotoyuki barreled into Kitataiki, driving him back… way back. Before he could blink Taiki was at the bales, but his composure and experience helped him to turn the tables at the edge and with some lateral motion was able to pull out the win. Both men finished at 8-7. Kitataiki improved from last basho, and had some good bouts this basho, but Kotoyuki was a real pleasure to watch. His tachiai has gotten MUCH better and his follow through has gotten more aggressive and better balanced. Should be fun to watch next basho as well.
Toyohibiki was using the JSA-approved method of beating Masunoyama today. He got in close, and got on the belt and waited for Masu to run short of breath and get a bit panicky, at which time he moved him back and won by kotenage. Beeker got a 9-6 and Masu ended with 7-8. Masu really needs to learn to not panic so he can avoid so many mistakes at the edge.
Yoshikaze got a decent grip on Wakanosato’s belt from the tachiai, but he was a little bit high. For the first time this basho we saw the real Wakanosato. Gramps finished things off quick and clean. Both rikishi finished with 7-8. Pretty standard basho from Yoshi, but Wakanosato is getting close to retirement. I am sure he is thinking about it. He was lacking his usual power, polish, and stamina this basho. He’ll probably hang in for next basho, but if it’s any worse than this basho I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hang it up.
Shotenro had Ikioi on the move with a thrusting attack, but Ikioi, noticing Tenro was a bit too far forward, pulled the arms and slipped to the side. Winning by hikiotoshi. Both men finish at 9-6 and both had a good basho. With a bit more polish Ikioi could be challenging into sanyaku.
Daido came into this bout 0-14 and lloking more and more like Hanah Barbara’s Grape Ape, and Fujiazuma (looking a lot like that weird root thing from Pan’s Labyrinth… you know, the one the little girl put in the bowl of milk under the bed…), sitting at 5-9 either had an attack of conscience or temporarily blacked out, because Daido’s harite/side step/slapdown was the sloppiest I have seen in a while. Both of these guys had pitiful bashos, and need to go home and think about what they did.
The next two are little better. Aminishiki easily won over Gagamaru, who seemed to forget that sumo required one to move their legs at all. I have seen the solution to this problem on tom and jerry. Jerry gets on the back of Gagamaru with a chain of sausages tied to a stick and holds it out in front. That’s how we got Berturm home from the bar the last time… except instead of sausage it was a tiny Irishman that hadn’t been beaten with a guitar. Perhaps that would take Gaga over the 3-12 he had this basho. Sneaky turns in a fairly standard 6-9.
Tochiozan was on a roll this basho, capping it with a fairly easy yorikiri win over Takarafuji. Tochi looked pretty good all basho and finished with a 10-5, which means he will be disastrous next basho. Takarafuji is turning into a solid mid-maegashira, but I don’t see him up in joii or sanyaku yet.
Chiyotairyu had a great tachiai against Takayasu, who immediately moved into a belt grip, and kept Chiyo from pulling down and backing away. After waiting for good position and keeping Chiyo away from the belt, Taka pushed forward and finished off Chiyo, no big deal. That means a 7-8 for Chiyo who looked 200% better this basho than the last basho, but just wasn’t able to eek out the KK. Takayasu however, is looking better and better every basho, and is good both in pushing and on the belt. He is a constant pain for the sanyaku, he claimed two ozeki and a yokozuna this basho, and showed well against Hakuho. I like him at M1 or M2, I think sanyaku will be a bit rough for him, but with a 9-6 he’ll get his chance at komusubi in September.
Kyokutenho got a standard yorikiri win over fellow-countryman Tokitenku. Both were a bit disappointing this basho. But that is to be expected from a mid maegashira who is thrust into komusubi and a guy who is nearly 40.
Aoiyama put a hairy corn-studded shit cap on top of the dry-aged fillet steak that was his basho today. It looked like he was trying to go in for a tickle-fight with Shohozan, who was straight in with his usual vicious tsuppari. That leaves Shohozan with a respectable 7-8 with some good bouts thrown in, and Aoiyama with a commendable 10-5. It looks like his decision to loose a few kilos and focus more on different styles gave him an edge. Not sure why he and Kaisei weren’t considered for the fighting spirit prize… but whatever.
Goeido locked up Toyo’s arms at the wrists, and denied him access to his favorite morozashi. Goeido then moved forward and picked up win number 8 on day 15, surprise, surprise. His first week was atrocious, and his second week was mediocre at best. Toyonoshima only managed 6-9 and wasn’t really on top of his game this basho, he looked a bit shaky, but should clean up next basho from a bit lower on the banzuke.
Okinoumi wanted to get in first and keep low on Myogiryu, while keeping him from getting a solid belt grip… but we don’t always get what we want. Myogiryu ninja-ed in there and from there it was short work up, out, and back. Yogi picks up his KK, but Oki could afford it at 9-6. Yogi didn’t look fantastic this basho, and he had a few bone-head losses. Oki looked great, and continued to show focus throughout the basho. Hopefully that will continue.
Kakuryu absorbed Kotooshu’s tachiai, and settled into a grip the pulled out a huge uwatenage felling the Bulgarian giant. Kakuryu was good this basho, no big losses to slouches, and he got his ozeki-required 10 wins, and Kotooshu after being the victim of 2 bogus calls falls to 9-6. To be fair Oshu was looking solid from day one, but I still don’t give a shit about him. It’s the only time he’s looked any good in recent memory. I’m sure the judges made those questionable calls because “well, it’s Kotooshu, isn’t he supposed to loose a bunch to non-ozeki?”
I couldn’t be happier with the next bout. Kotoshogiku came in against Kisenosato with a good tachiai, and Kise let him right into a belt grip. Geeku kept up the motion and had Kise in a really awkward position. Back and out. Even after Hakuho handed Kise a free win yesterday, he imploded under the pressure. This just proves he was not ready to be a Yokozuna, nor will he be next basho. ‘Atta boy Geeku 9-6. Too bad for Kise that his chance at a new yokozuna run was trounced, that is until the JSA figures some xenophobic way around it.
I nearly shit in my jinbei for this next one. Harry came in against Hakuho, pushed once, Hak did nothing, Harry reset and pushed again. Hak just went out. I don’t know that I have ever seen a so obviously thrown bout. The look on Haks face was one of complete and utter boredom and ambivalence. I am not sure what was up with Hakuho this basho. He had said his goal was getting 40 consecutive wins. He got 43 and yusho #26..bonus.I guess he figured he could take advantage of his slight injury from day 13 and pad his retirement package a bit by tossing a bone to Kise and Harry. In any event, it was an awful ending to the basho. I considered doing what Valentine did and just reported on a Hakuho bout that was worth reporting, but it doesn’t make the bout go away.
All in all it was an interesting basho. There were some good storylines, a few surprises and some good sumo in the mix. Not to mention a good farewell basho for our own Valentine, who will be heading back to the motherland, but still dwill drop a report in every once in a while. Looking forward to September and seeing how the banzuke turns out.
Stay tuned over the next week for some whisky and cigar reviews as well as our basho wind-down and our S&S special prize announcements.